FCC Proposes Part 97 Changes

The FCC finally got around to addressing a number of issues via a NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULE MAKING AND ORDER. This proposal is an odd mix of Volunteer Examiner (VE) rules, changing the license renewal grace period and dealing with a problem with emission designators.

This notice proposes changes to Part 97 of the FCC Rules and seeks comment on these proposals:

  • Require that VEs give examination credit to an applicant who can demonstrate that he or she formerly held a particular class of license
  • Provide that a CSCE provides element credit for the holder’s lifetime
  • Reduce the grace period for renewal of an expired license to six months
  • Reduce the time before a call sign becomes available for reassignment to six months (to match the grace period)
  • Reduce the number of VEs required to administer an examination from three to two
  • Allow remote observation of examination sessions by VEs (allow exams to be given via an audio and video system)
  • Clean up some issues in the rules concerning Morse code testing (which has been eliminated)
  • Allow emission types FXE and FXD to clear up issues concerning MOTOTRBO and DMR (see my previous post on this topic)

Comments on theses items must be filed with the FCC within 60 days.

73, Bob K0NR

Bob Witte, KØNR, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Colorado, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

6 Responses to “FCC Proposes Part 97 Changes”

  • Matt W1MST:

    The remote observation of exams seems like an interesting idea. What’s behind this change, to enable online VE exam sessions?

  • W0FMS:

    The grace period down to 6 months will cause us to lose a lot of hams; we should oppose it. A year is long enough for someone who forgot about it, six months is not. Hopefully a ARRL or a W5YI will pick up this ball and send a solicitation out for renewal (with the hopes they get the fee for doing it).

    Also the FCC is dropping the ball in not COMPLETELY rewriting amateur rules on digital modes, but I don’t personally have time for that fight. The 1980’s came and went…

    I think the remote test idea will lead to fraud so I’d have to disagree with Matt. There isn’t a shortage of VE exams in practice. Maybe for very remote places like AK, but even here in IA there is no need.

    Fred W0FMS

  • Jason ke7tdy:

    hurm this is interesting …especailly the life time credit for previous exams. I thought they turned down that idea a while back [didn’t the VEC of Alaska suggest it?]
    ~j

  • k8gu:

    Frankly, all of these (with possible exception of the Morse code clean-up) left me wondering who/what was behind them. Is it some sort of effort to reduce paperwork for the FCC or VECs? It seems to me that it is healthy to have licenses and CSCEs expire and the applicants re-test. As Fred says, the grace period is just fine right now. The only reason I can see anyone wanting to change the grace period is supply (low) and demand (high) for 2×1 and 1×2 vanity callsigns. Is that really compelling?

  • John E Mann-KK4ITN:

    1.Since the Advanced is no longer available their allocation should be split between General and Extra.
    2.Lifetime credit should be given for elements taken and passed.
    3.Our base will be icreased and our hobby needs more people on the air!

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